Golf Digress

Physically cultured commentary on Sport and Wellness

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A Masters tradition

The camera angle caught me off-guard. The ceremonial first shot, with The Big Three. We weren’t permitted to see it, just the swings from the front. No doubt sensitivities prevailing. It’s possible the last shots we were allowed to watch were from Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, the year that Sam paralyzed a man in a tragic accident, running a light on his way to the National. Years before a bunch of scribes were out at the Byron Nelson School at Las Colinas, near Dallas. Byron was out alone “testing” some new drivers from Cleveland on the range. The thought of having to hit that shot at his age on an invariably cold Augusta morning weighed heavy on his mind.

The swings this morning from Arnie, Gary and Jack all looked okay, but, of course, we were denied the opportunity to see the results – not, I hesitate to add, that it really matters. Most golfers would be thrilled to be still playing at their age. I have come to appreciate that with better players, especially the best, there is an alarming point of diminishing returns. These come with the sheer annoyance from not being able to do something that once came so very easily.

One last downer note. Cleaning this afternoon I came across Robert Creamer’s description of the declining years of Babe Ruth. There’s nothing to add, really. You can imagine the Babe, obviously once a virile specimen, a gargantuan athletic talent. As Ruth’s health declined and cancer raged, Creamer took note of the sort of detail that exceptional historians notice.

Sometimes at the club he felt so bad he would have only a soft-boiled egg, and he had trouble swallowing that. One day he looked at the egg in his misery and said, “To think of the steaks.” For a time he continued to play eighteen holes, but as he grew weaker his games grew shorter. One day he teed up his ball, swung well and hit the ball cleanly. It carried straight down the fairway, but for only about 90 yards. Ruth stood on the tee watching it and cried, cursing through the tears.

But hey, enjoy the Masters!

 

 

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Silver lining

 

LET ME GENTLY LAY OUT A PLEASING PROSPECT TO THE UNFORTUNATE LATEST SURGERY FOR THE SPECTACULAR GOLFER OF THE RECENT PAST.
THERE’S AN AWARD THAT ELDRICK TIGER WOODS WOULD NEVER HAVE CONSIDERED, AND NEVER HAVE HOPED TO WIN. BUT LET ME JUST THROW OUT SOME NAMES THAT SHOULD CATCH HIS ATTENTION: CHARLIE OWENS, CASEY MARTIN, LEE TREVINO, CALVIN PETE, KEN VENTURI, TOM WATSON.
THOSE ARE SOME OF THE PAST WINNERS, LET’S CALL THEM CHAMPONS, JUST A HANDFUL ON THE LIST OF AN AWARD THAT NO GOLFER WOULD HAVE IN THEIR SIGHTS. HERE’S ONE OTHER NAME THAT EVERY GOLFER WOULD WANT TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH: BEN HOGAN.

EACH YEAR THE GOLF SCRIBES GIVE THE BEN HOGAN AWARD: “TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO HAS CONTINUED TO BE ACTIVE IN GOLF DESPITE A PHYSICAL HANDICAP OR SERIOUS ILLNESS.”

A PINCHED NERVE IS NOT BEING HIT BY A BUS. I DON’T MEAN TO IMPLY THAT. COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR IS A MORE RECOGNIZABLE AWARD. WOODS MAY VERY WELL WIN IT. HE MAY NEVER HAVE HEARD OF THE BEN HOGAN AWARD. JACK NICKLAUS’S RECORD WAS ALWAYS ON THE HORIZON, A DANGEROUS, SPECIOUS BENCHMARK, FOR ALL ONE CAN ASK IS TO COMPETE AND WIN AGAINST THE PLAYERS IN THE FIELD. COMPARISON WITH PAST IMMORTALS IS TILTING AT WINDMILLS. FOR A GOLFER SO COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE, PERHAPS THE TIME CONTEMPLATING AND WEIGHING HIS LATEST RECOVERY WILL BE PUT TO GOOD USE IN TAKING THE LONG VIEW.

HE MAY NOW CONSIDER THE MORE IMPORTANT GOALS. THERE IS AT LEAST ONE MEANINGFUL RECORD OUT THERE, PERHAPS ONE HE NEVER CONSIDERED. HIS NAME CAN GO ON THE LIST, ALONGSIDE THOSE WHO HAVE BATTLED AS SERIOUS AND MUCH DEBILITATING INJURIES AND INFIRMITIES: JIM NELFORD, JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL, LINDA CRAFT, JEFF JULIAN – AND EVEN, FUNNY HOW LIFE GOES – FUZZY ZOELLER. AND, FOR THE RECORD, WHILE I NEVER THOUGHT HE WOULD BREAK JACK’S RECORD, THOUGH WISHED HIM WELL, NOT THAT IT MATTERED, I HOPE HE WINS THE BEN HOGAN AWARD, FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS.

That’s Golf! I’m here to tell you edition

Scribes excluded from HOF balloting? A bad idea.

Scribes excluded from HOF balloting? A bad idea.

That’s Golf! SportsTalk AM 1300 The Zone, Austin, TX Script for March 30, 2014

HERE’S A THOUGHT: “THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME WHEN THE CORDS OF CONCENTRATION ARE MOST APT TO SNAP IS WHEN EVERYTHING IS GOING SMOOTHLY.”

I’LL REPEAT THAT.

I WONDER IF BOB JONES WAS TALKING ABOUT GOLF, OR OTHER MATTERS.

JUST A LITTLE MORSEL TO SNACK ON AS WE GET SET TO TURN TO HOUSTON AND THEN ONTO GEORGIA FOR THE FIRST MAJOR OF THE YEAR.

YOUR HOST & FEARLESS LEADER FOR THE NEXT HOUR: NOT EXACTLY THE BOSS WITH THE HOT SAUCE. NOR COULD I BE CONFUSED WITH PUTTING THE LABEL ON THE TABLE. NO, IT’S MORE LIKE OPENING UP ANOTHER CAN OF VERBAL GOLF SPAM. I AM PLEASED TO WELCOME YOU BACK, VICARIOUSLY, INTO THE SHAG-ENCRUSTED CONFINES. FOR THE RECORD, MY WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY INCLUDES AN ELASTIC WAIST BAND AND A SHIRT WITH SLEEVES.

WE’RE LIVE BECAUSE IT BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE. WELCOME AGAIN TO THAT’S GOLF!  THE EXCLAMATION POINT IS OPTIONAL. IT’S EARLY. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SHOW TO HELP YOU WITH THE SEX TALK WITH YOUR CHILD, THIS IS NOT IT. NOR IS IT THE PLACE TO TURN FOR FINANCIAL ADVICE. YOU MIGHT STEER CLEAR OF ANYONE WITH A DEEP SUNTAN AND A ONE-IRON. THAT’S ABOUT THE EXTENT OF THE ADVICE FROM ME.

INSTEAD WE TURN TO REAL EXPERTS, NOT JUST THOSE THAT PROFESS TO PLAY ONE ON THE RADIO. AND, WHILE WE DO TEND TO AVOID ANYTHING OF A POLITICAL NATURE HERE ON THE ZONE, I DO ENDORSE SOME SEX MARRIAGE.

OUR ENDEAVOR IS TO ENHANCE OUR APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING OF GOLF. WE DO THAT IN ANY NUMBER OF DECIDEDLY LOW-TECH WAYS.

HERE’S A HEADLINE YOU MIGHT SEE ONCE EVERY FIVE-HUNDRED YEARS. IT APPEARED IN A RECENT EDITION OF THE DAILY MAIL. QUOTE:

We must open our doors to women, says Royal & Ancient: Golf’s governing body tells male members of St Andrews they should accept change is inevitable.

YOU CAN HEAR THE GRUMBLING.

THE ARTICLE BEGINS WITH THIS BOMBASTIC LEDE: QUOTE: The hugely powerful Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which also serves as the sport’s governing body, has written to all 2,500 of its current members recommending they agree to allow women to join.

I HOPE YOU’RE SITTING DOWN. THAT’S RIGHT: WOMEN. THEY WEAR PANTY HOSE AND PERFUME – ALTHOUGH, COME TO THINK OF IT – THAT DOESN’T ENTIRELY EXCLUDE THE MALE AUDIENCE, AT LEAST SOUTH OF THE RIVER.

THE ARTICLE CONTINUES: “St Andrews has repeatedly resisted mounting political and commercial pressure to overhaul the admissions policy at its clubhouse, which overlooks the 18th green of the Old Course – the spiritual home of golf. In an extraordinary ABOUT-face, Wilson Sibbet, chairman of the club’s influential General Committee, has written to members with a clear message that they should accept the change as inevitable. ‘It is of course for members to decide,” HE WRITES, “if they wish to alter the rules of the club to give effect to this change of policy.” END QUOTE.

THE PROBLEM, OR AT LEAST ONE OF THEM, IS THAT THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP IS HELD AT PLACES LIKE MUIRFIELD, WITH A MALE-ONLY POLICY. FRANKLY, I’M MORE INTERESTED IN THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT, AND WHAT IT MIGHT MEAN FOR FREEING UP TEE TIMES AT THE OLD COURSE FOR THOSE NATIONS (OR “REPUBLICS” – HINT, HINT) THAT REMAIN FRIENDLY DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH THE SCOTS.

STAY TUNED. I DIDN’T MEAN TO ALARM YOU AT THIS EARLY HOUR. WOMEN IN THE R&A CLUBHOUSE? WHAT NEXT? THEY’VE GOT THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND DRIVE A CAR. I’M KIDDING OF COURSE. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIG SUPPORTER OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE.

OF COURSE WHAT THIS ALL BOILS DOWN TO IS MONEY. SPONSORS GET SWEATY  PALMS WHEN HALF OF THE BUYING PUBLIC IS EXCLUDED.

WHICH BRINGS US TO OUR NEXT STORY. AND, FOR ALL THE RIGHT CORPORATE REASONS – BY WHICH I MEAN ALL THE WRONG REASONS – (ANOTHER MUCH-SMALLER AGGRIEVED MINORITY), THE HUMBLE GOLF SCRIBE HAS BEEN YANKED FROM VOTING FOR GOLF’S HALL OF FAME.

THEY’RE GOING EXCLUSIVELY WITH “ADMINISTRATORS” AND THOSE ALREADY VOTED IN. BY COMPARISON, OF COURSE, THE MOST HERALDED SPORT HALLS OF FAME – COOPERSTOWN AND CANTON – RELY ON THE EXPERTISE OF THOSE WHO PROFESSIONALLY COVER AND REPORT ON THEIR SPORT. NUFF SAID. GOLF, SADLY – OR AT LEAST THIS ONE CORPORATE ARM – HAS DECIDED TO GO IN ANOTHER DIRECTION.

The chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame — “THE CHIEF” SAYS: EXCLUDING THE SCRIBES “…puts the decision-making of who gets into the Hall of Fame in the right hands — individuals who know the history of the game, have a passion for the game, who know the players, who understand the qualities that make up a Hall of Famer.” BULL. GET THAT MAN A SHOVEL.

I’M HERE TO TELL YOU: THE ENSHRINEMENT PROCESS HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY CHEAPENED. BAD IDEA. THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY. KEEP LOWERING THE STANDARDS. A BAD, BAD IDEA CHASING OFF THE SCRIBES. AND, NO, IF YOU’RE WONDERING – I’M NOT A VOTER.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO WANTED TO CHARGE MORE TO ALLOW WELL-HEELED PATRONS A BETTER VANTAGE PLACE INSIDE THE PGA TOUR ROPES – BASICALLY, A DISASTER. THE SAME PEOPLE WHO THOUGHT THE ‘CHASE FOR THE CHECK’ WAS EXCITING.

AMAZING, WHEN YOU THINK OF IT, THAT GOLF HAS STILL MANAGED TO SURVIVE AT ALL DESPITE MAN’S BEST ATTEMPTS TO MONOPOLIZE AND MONOTIZE IT….END OF EDITORIAL. PRINTED COPIES NOT AVAILABLE.

 

 

 

Draw

Just the latest in a long line of athletic gun-related tragedies.

Just the latest in a long line of athletic gun-related tragedies.

“So, where’s your gun?” It was assumed, naturally, because I was American. This was in England, 1979, students sitting around a pint. They were big fans of “Kojak.” Yanks all carried guns. Not every American, I told them. It only seemed that way, especially now. And athletes do love them some guns. They shoot themselves in the thigh (Plaxico Burress), arrange to have girlfriends murdered (Rae Curruth), forget they’ve got them in their carry-ons (Shaun Rogers, et al), shoot their limo driver (Jayson Williams), or exercise their Second Amendment rights in other novel and often fatal idiotic ways. But, as we know, sports only mirror society. Why quibble?

The Pistorius trial has more than its share of peculiarities. In a general way it reminded me of two tragic, little-known gun in sports episodes. That they involve two immortals must, in some way, be telling. Both Ty Cobb and Ben Hogan took pains to avoid at least publicly reprising  seminal events that defined their very core. Cobb biographer Charles Alexander pegged his subject as “a deeply flawed. fascinating personality.” The same can certainly be said of Hogan, who witnessed his father’s suicide as a child. Cobb carried a slug from a .22 in his shoulder from the age of 16 on, an accident, self-inflicted. His father stopped the bleeding, then put him on a train to seek treatment in Atlanta, a 75-mile trip, keeping in mind this was over a century ago. It healed nicely, but that incident was the least of it.

The Georgia Peach carried a slug in his shoulder from a .22.

The Georgia Peach carried a slug in his shoulder from a .22.

Just as he was becoming a very good ballplayer, his mother shot his father. Georgia, early August, what Cobb, in one of his only written explanations, would recall simply as “the blackest of days” when he got the news. The oddest circumstance, from Alexander’s account, is that his mother, alone in the house locked the bedroom windows “even though the temperature had been in the nineties that day and it was still w arm and humid.” She went to bed. Her husband had said he would be spending a few days out at the farm. Alexander mentions rumors of Amanda Cobb’s infidelity. Anyway, W.H. Cobb reappeared that night on foot in town. “Shortly after midnight Amaanda Cobb was awakened by a noise on the porch roof. A figure she could not make out was struggling to raise one of the windows to her bedroom Grabbing the loaded double-barreled shotgun that always stood in a corner of the room, she pointed it toward the window and fired once. After what witnesses later described as a considerable interval, she fired again. Approaching the shattered window, she peered into the darkness to find her husband lying in a widening pool of blood.” She was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and later absolved at trial, which Cobb attended.

Hogan was nine when his father, Chester, 37, took a .38 to his temple. Hogan biographer Curt Sampson includes and considers two local obituaries in his biography. The impact is left to conjecture. “But,” Sampson wrote, “from a performance standpoint, Hogan understood himself better than any athelete ever. That was Hogan’s Secret. It didn’t become a book or a magazine series because mental toughness, self-control, focus, and the connectin between mood and performance couldn’t be photographed. It was difficult for him to describe and for us dilettantes to apply. He didn’t think we would understand.”

Hogan, of course, would later endure further tragedy, losing a collision with a Greyhound bus. His extraordinary courage in returning to golf and winning would cement his immortality. The accident changed him, obviously. It seemed “preposterous” that Hogan would play top golf again after clearly facing death, to people who’d covered him. Al Laney had watched him from before WWII to 1967. He saw a different Hogan. Gone, he wrote, “ was at least a part of the cold, indifferent, remorseless Hogan, consumed in the fires of the ordeal through which he had passed.”

There was no metamorphosis with Cobb. Sam Crawford played alongside him in the Tiger outfield for 13 years. Wahoo Sam told Lawrence Ritter in The Glory of Their Times that Cobb arrived in Detroit “with an antagonistic attitude, which in his mind turned any little razzing into a life-or-death struggle. He always figured everybody was ganging up against him. He came from the South, you know, and he was still fighting the Civil War. As far as he was concerned, we were all damn Yankees before he ever met us. Well, who knows, maybe if he hadn’t had that persecution complex he never would have been the great ball player he was.”

There was a different Hogan after his near-fatal car accident, recalled Al Laney.

There was a different Hogan after his near-fatal car accident, recalled Al Laney.

I wonder.  Would Cobb have been Cobb, or Hogan Hogan without these tragic influences? Would they have been so driven to succeed? Would their ability have been so hardened to channel and compartmentalize the hurt? The mold was broken with both of them. Perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing. Every pistol-packing and playing pro athlete should reflectively consider the Pistorius bathroom door testimony.

 

Stalking Points Memo: Sleep Tight Edition

  • From: The Baltimore Sun
  • Meditation: A stress reliever, but not a panacea

Take a deep breath, meditation enthusiasts: A new study finds that research on mindfulness meditation has yielded moderate evidence that the practice can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms and pain, but little to no evidence that it can reduce substance abuse or improve mood, sleep or weight control. And no evidence was found that meditation programs were better than drugs, exercise or other behavioral therapies at addressing issues of mental health.

The latest word on meditation’s effects comes from a meta-analysis–essentially a study of existing clinical trials that sifts, consolidates and distills their findings. It’s published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The analysis showed a “small and consistent signal” that different components of negative effect–stress, distress, anxiety and depression–improved in subjects who were trained in and practiced mindfulness meditation, the authors wrote. The scale of benefits found ranged from 22% to 38% for anxiety symptoms and 23% to 30% for depressive symptoms. Its effect on pain was more robust, yielding an average improvement of about 33%.

  •  From: The Guardian
  • Animal protein-rich diets could be as harmful to health as smoking

A diet rich in meat, eggs, milk and cheese could be as harmful to health as smoking, according to a controversial study into the impact of protein consumption on longevity.

High levels of dietary animal protein in people under 65 years of age was linked to a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer or diabetes, and almost double the risk of dying from any cause over an 18-year period, researchers found. However, nutrition experts have cautioned that it’s too early to draw firm conclusions from the research.

The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes, though cancer risk was still three times as high in middle-aged people who ate a protein-rich diet, compared with those on a low-protein diet.

But whereas middle-aged people who consumed a lot of animal protein tended to die younger from cancer, diabetes and other diseases, the same diet seemed to protect people’s health in old age.

  • From: Fox News
  • Study finds link between BPA and prostate cancer

The highly controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been linked with yet another adverse health condition: prostate cancer.

In a small study published in PLOS ONE, scientists observed the presence of high levels of BPA in men with prostate cancer; they also found that BPA exposure disrupts cell division, potentially affecting cancer’s development.

The Cincinnati Cancer Center researchers say these findings point to the need for future studies looking into the effects of BPA exposure.

BPA is used to manufacture hard, polycarbonate plastics and is found in many food product containers such as cans, receipts and plastic water bottles.  It has been linked to cancers, neurological defects, diabetes and obesity. BPA exposure in the U.S. is widespread, with more than 90 percent of the population containing some levels of the chemical.

  •  From: Today
  • Up all night: Parents and kids are losing sleep to their devices

“Light will disturb your sleep — so looking at a screen is going to make it harder for them to sleep. Noise will disturb your sleep especially if it’s left on,” Knutson says. “And also these really, the more interactive devices, like video games or their tablets, are mentally stimulating. And so that’s also going to make it harder for them to go to sleep once they finally try. And it’s a distraction, so they’re just staying awake later because they’re playing with their devices.”

James Maas, a sleep expert, author and retired professor and chair of Cornell University’s psychology department, says that most people don’t realize that our brains register the blue glowing light from all our various screens as if it’s sunlight — which says to your brain, hey, it’s the middle of the day!

“If you look at these gadgets within an hour of bedtime, what happens is melatonin — the brain hormone that puts you to sleep — has been suppressed for the last hour,” said Maas. “Now, it’s going to take you much longer to go to sleep.”

The survey found that 6- to 10-year-olds are averaging about 8.9 hours of sleep on school nights – hours less than the 10 to 11 they should ideally be getting – and older kids get even less sleep, with 15- to 17-year-olds reporting just 7.1 hours of sleep per night. That’s troubling, Maas says, because that age group should be getting more like 9.25 hours of sleep every night.

That’s Golf! March 2, 2014 Opening Salvo

Script of the first segment airing on SportsTalk AM 1300 The Zone (KVET-AM), Austin, TX, USA

 

Fore RIGHT, Comrade!

Fore RIGHT, Comrade!

AS A RESPONSIBLE BROADCASTER, I WOULD HATE TO THINK THAT THIS PROGRAM ENCOURAGES BINGE DRINKING, IN ANY MEANINGFUL WAY. THE URGE GENERALLY STRIKES RIGHT AFTER WE SIGN OFF THE AIR.

OF COURSE, YOUR HABITS ARE YOUR PREROGATIVE. GOLFERS WE KNOW ARE CREATURES OF ROUTINE. I’D JUST REMIND YOU THAT: 21 MEANS 21, AND SIX BEATS SEVEN.

I HOPE YOU AT LEAST SAW THE HIGHLIGHTS OF  LAST WEEK’S EXCITING MATCH PLAY FINAL. THE YOUNG, UNHERALDED FRENCHMAN, MONSIEUR DUBUISSON, HIT SOME ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS ESCAPES FROM THE DESERT, BEFORE FALLING TO ONE OF PERHAPS THE BEST OF AN EXCELLENT CROP OF YOUNG TOURING PROS, JASON DAY.

JUST ANOTHER EXCLAMATION POINT ON THE POWER OF SCRAMBLING. NO ONE PLAYS THIS GAME PERFECTLY. IT TAKES IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY ALONG WITH A BIT OF LUCK BUTTRESSING THE FUNDAMENTALS. A LITTLE MUNY GOLF ACTION FROM SOME OF THOSE ARIZONA LIES…FROM THE BASE OF A CACTUS, OFF THE ROCKS, AMAZING UP-AND-DOWNS.

GOLFERS PLAYING OUT IN ARIZONA WERE ONCE ADVISED TO CARRY A ‘ROCK’ IRON, A BEAT-UP 5-IRON, SAY, FOR THE SHOTS WHEN YOU LEFT THE GRASS. …JASON DAY THE WINNER ON THE 23RD HOLE. SOME FUN. NO LEAD IS SAFE IN MATCH PLAY, THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF IT. AND THAT’S WHY THE PRO TOURISTS FIND IT SO UNSETTLING, THE UNPREDICTABLE NATURE OF IT, ESPECIALLY WHEN PLAYED AT A HIGH LEVEL.

…OUR MOTTO ON THAT’S GOLF: GOTTA BE READY TO SCRAMBLE, AND FIVE BEATS SIX. JASON DAY, I’M GUESSING, IS CIRCULATING UPPERMOST IN THE MINDS OF THOSE THINKING AHEAD ABOUT THE  MASTERS.

…AND OUTSIDE THE TOY DEPARTMENT THIS WEEK, THERE CONTINUE TO BE PERILOUS DEVELOPMENTS IN A DISTANT PART OF THE WORLD, IN UKRAINE.

IT WAS THERE THAT WE HAD YET ANOTHER REMINDER OF THE NOOKS AND CRANNIES INTO WHICH GOLF SEEPS.  WE LEARNED OF THE EXCESSES OF OUSTED UKRANIAN PRESIDENT Viktor Yanukovych. NATURALLY, HE HAD A GOLF COURSE. IT WAS HERALDED AS A SIGN OF THAT EXCESS. HOW MUCH GOLF HE MIGHT’VE PLAYED IS A WORTHWHILE QUESTION.

I’M REMINDED OF BUTCH HARMON. A MEMBER OF THAT CELEBRATED CLAN, HE WAS ONCE EMPLOYED PERSONALLY BY THE KING OF MOROCCO, AN EXOTIC BUT LUCRATIVE POSTING. (AND I’M NOT IMPLYING IN ANY WAY THAT THE TWO NATIONS ARE SIMILAR.) THE KING WAS AN ENTHUSIASTIC, IF UNEXCEPTIONAL GOLFER, AND A GOOD FRIEND OF THE U.S. FOR MANY YEARS, WE LATER LEARNED, BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE MIDDLE EAST. LEE TREVINO AND BILLY CASPER VISITED MOROCCO  NUMEROUS TIMES, AND LEE TELLS AN INTERESTING STORY PLAYING WITH BUTCH AND THE KING, IN HIS BOOKS, THE SNAKE IN THE SANDTRAP.

…BUT DETAILS ON YANUKOVYCH’S GOLF REMAIN SKETCHY, AS DO MANY THINGS REGARDING HIS TIME LEADING ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT REGIMES ON EARTH.

INSIDE HIS WALLED COMPOUND THERE WAS MUCH TO MARVEL OVER. MAYBE YOU SAW THE PHOTOS. ALONG WITH THE MANSIONS AND MANICURED LAWNS, there were, ONE REPORT NOTED: parks dotted with statues, ponds with fountains, THE OBLIGATORY PETTING ZOO, a tennis court, a golf course and a colonnaded pavilion. AT LEAST ONE GOLFER TURNED OUT TO ENJOY THE NEWLY-OPENED 18-HOLE COURSE. THERE WAS, apparently, A LEATHER GOLF BAG TOO, WITH THE PRESIDENT’S NAME INSCRIBED ON IT. REPORTEDLY holding GOLD GOLF CLUBS EMBLAZONED WITH HIS PERSONAL LOGO – PERHAPS FROM THE JAPANESE CLUBMAKER, HONMA – WERE ALSO TAKEN OUT FOR A SPIN. HARD TO SAY FROM THE EARLY REPORTS. HONMA’S TOP OF THE LINE CLUBS GO FOR SOME $75K A SET.

GOLF, I THINK WE CAN AGREE, IS PROBABLY NOT UPPERMOST IN THE FORMER UKRANIAN LEADER’S MIND AT PRESENT…MORE LIKE KEEPING HIS HEAD ATTACHED TO HIS BODY.

…AND THEN, ODDLY, A COINCIDENCE CLOSER TO HOME.

THERE WAS A BIG SPORTS MEMORABILIA AUCTION LAST WEEK – AN ALLEGED GAME-USED ROOKIE BAT BY SHOELESS JOE JACKSON FROM 1911 WENT FOR $958,000. The auction took place at the Ukrainian Institute of America IN NEW YORK CITY. WHO KNEW?

YOU’LL HAVE ALSO HEARD THAT WALLY PRYOR PASSED AWAY. I’M SURE THE GENTLEMEN OF THE BUFFET WILL HAVE MUCH TO SAY ABOUT THE VOICE OF THE LONGHORNS. A GENTLEMAN AND A SWEETHEART. A LOVELY TRIBUTE.

THIS MORNING WE – IN THE CONGENIAL SNOBATORIUM THAT IS THE SHAG-ENCRUSTED CONFINES, ALONG WITH EVERYONE WHO MAKES $14 THE HARD WAY – ALSO MOURN THE DEATH OF COMEDIAN HAROLD RAMIS. WE HAVE HIM, IN LARGE MEASURE, TO THANK FOR MOVIES LIKE ANIMAL HOUSE, GHOSTBUSTERS, STRIPES, AND HE COLLABORATED ON THE SCRIPT AND DIRECTED HIS FRIEND BILL MURRAY IN “GROUND HOG DAY.” BUT, WE ESPECIALLY HONOR HIS DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, WHICH WAS “CADDYSHACK.” THE LEGS OF THAT MOVIE CAME AS A CONSIDERABLE SURPRISE TO HAROLD RAYMIS. HE PASSED AWAY AT THE AGE OF 69. A FUNNY MAN AND FUNNY WRITER.

AND, AS LIFE INCREASINGLY PAYS TRIBUTE TO ART, NO LESS THAN THE PRESIDENT, HIS OWN SELF, RELEASED A STATEMENT EXTENDING HIS THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO THE RAYMIS FAMILY, WITH A SLY CADDYSHACK REFERENCE.

AS REPORTED IN USA TODAY:

Obama said in a written statement Tuesday that his thoughts and prayers GO OUT TO THE Ramis family, and “all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.” UNQUOTE

THE REFERENCE TO “total consciousness” – GRASPED USA TODAY – HARKENS TO A quote uttered by Carl Spackler, PLAYED ADEPTLY by Bill Murray.

CRAZY CARL, YOU’LL RECALL, claims he once caddied for the Dalai Lama — “big hitter, the Lama” — but the religious leader failed to tip him.

“He says, ‘oh, uh, there won’t be any money — but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness,'” Spackler says, adding (famously): “So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

I’VE SEEN PHOTOS OF A BUDDHIST MONK WHO PLAYS THE MUNYS IN SAN FRANCISCO IN HIS ROBES. PERHAPS HE’S A BETTER TIPPER THAN THE LAMA.

IN CASE YOU JUST HAPPEN TO BE SPANNING THE DIAL, THIS IS THE SHOW DEVOTED TO THE GAME WITHOUT PARTICIPANTS FACING FELONY GUN CHARGES. NO PRISON SCUFFLES FOR MURDER SUSPECTS. NO SCREAMING COACHES OR MANIACAL FANS. NO ACCUSATIONS OF CHOKING A WOMAN AT A PARTY, OR UNPROVOKED ATTACKS ON THEIR OWN EXPENSIVE VEHICLES WITH A BASEBALL BAT. JUST OCCASIONAL, UNFUNNY, BUFFOONERY, STUPID THINGS TWEETED IN SEARCH OF A CHEAP LAUGH.

THIS MONTH, IN ADVANCE OF THE MASTERS, WHICH, tomorrow, is less than 40 DAYS OFF, WE TURN OUR ATTENTION TO IMPROVEMENT. SOME OF THE SOUTH TEXAS PGA’S FINEST WILL JOIN ME TO AIR OUT YOUR GAME FOR SPRING. AND, WE’LL ALSO HAVE OUR CONSTITUTIONAL VISIT WITH THE PRO AT 8:30. IT’S ALL PART OF THE SERVICE.

OUR FORECAST:

AS HE HEAD TO OUR FIRST BREAK – THERE ARE NO TIME-OUTS IN GOLF – A QUICK ASIDE TO FILE UNDER ‘WHY THESE GUYS ARE DIFFERENT:’

ON THURSDAY’S ROUND Zach Johnson SHOT 67. He hit two shots into the water on his way to a quadruple-bogey 8 on his second hole of the tournament. HE THEN RESPONDED WITH seven birdies to get back in the game. SNOWMAN FOLLOWED BY SEVEN BIRDIES. COMPARE THAT WITH THE BLACK HOLE THAT WE FALL INTO WITH AN 8 ON THE SECOND HOLE OF A ROUND.

[AND WHAT A DIFFERENCE FOR RORY MCILORY. THIS WAS THE TOURNAMENT HE STORMED OFF LAST YEAR IN DISGUST. SEVEN OVER PAR AFTER EIGHT HOLES. THAT WAS THEN. AN OPENING-ROUND 63. HE LEADS HEADED INTO TODAY’S FINAL ROUND BY TWO STROKES. IN PURSUIT: Russell Henley, Russell Knox, FORMER LONGHORN Jhonny Vegas, Keegan Bradley & Luke Donald.]

I’M GLAD YOU COULD JOIN US. AN OSCAR (MADISON) PERFORMANCE. …RIDING BY CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN DOWNTOWN THE OTHER DAY I HAPPENED TO NOTICE THESE WORDS: “DELIBERATELY DIVERSE, FULLY INCLUSIVE.” SO IT HAPPENS IS THAT’S GOLF. AND THE PRESBYTERIAN INFLUENCE IS ONE OF LONGSTANDING IN THE AULD SCOTTISH GAME. THOSE SEMINARY STUDENTS WHO WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF ST. ANDREWS TOOK GOLF ACROSS THE VICTORIAN BRITISH EMPIRE. WHY I BRING THIS UP IS JUST ONE OF ANY NUMBER OF TANGENTS WE MIGHT EXPLORE WITH STEVE DARBY, WHO JOINS US AFTER THE BREAK. THE LONGTIME PRO AT HISTORIC HANCOCK SIDLES BY NEXT.

YOU’RE LISTENING TO THAT’S GOLF HERE ON SPORTSTALK AM 1300 THE ZONE.

 

Stalking Points Memo – Veggie Edition

From: CNN

Dehydration: Not Just a Summer Thing

Each day, the body loses about eight cups of water, and that fluid needs to be replenished. When you become dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker, making your heart work harder. Also, as you age, the body is less able to recognize dehydration. The initial thirst signals aren’t triggered and sent to the brain, making it especially important to be aware of how much water is consumed.

…Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables. You can get some of the water from fresh produce. According to Karen Owoc, a human-performance specialist and professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the International Society of Sports Nutrition, although watermelon is usually the first fluid-rich fruit people think of, lettuce is 95% water. And oranges and apples are 88 and 84% water, respectively.

From: CBS News

Could eating fried foods lead to Alzheimer’s? Study links brain plaque with Western diet

They’re called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are proteins or lipids that when put in the presence of sugars, go through a process called glycation that makes cells stiffer and age faster. This can lead to chronic inflammation, and AGEs have previously been linked to diabetes and plaque buildup in arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis.

AGEs exist in small amounts normally in the body, but they are often consumed through food. They are especially abundant in meat and dairy products, and can increase when the food is cooked in high temperatures like when beef is grilled or fried.

For the study, mice were given a variety of different diets. Researchers saw that mice that ate more AGEs were more likely to have buildups of beta-amyloid protein plaques in the brain, a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

These mice were also observed having memory and motion issues, which were not present in mice that were not eating foods high in AGEs.

The researchers then took a group of 93 adults aged 60 and older, and gave them blood tests and asked them to complete a questionnaire that doctors use to test for dementia.

The researchers saw that people who had higher levels of AGEs in their blood had more problems with their cognitive functioning over the next nine months. They also had more problems with insulin resistance, which is one of the hallmarks of diabetes.

From: NY Times

How to Get Fit in a Few Minutes a Week

The takeaway of both studies is that it is best, if you wish to perform high-intensity interval training, to stick to what is well documented as effective: a few sessions per week of 30- or 60-second intervals so strenuous you moan, followed by a minute or so of blessed recovery, and a painful repetition or four. Done correctly, such sessions, in my experience, get you out of the gym quickly and inspire truly inventive cursing.

From Time Magazine:

7 Reasons Vegetarians Live Longer

Now there’s another health perk vegetarians can boast about. A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine looked at data from seven clinical studies and 32 other studies published between 1900 and 2013 where participants kept a vegetarian diet and found that vegetarians have lower blood pressure compared to people who eat meat.

Here are some other reasons vegetarians may outlive meat-lovers.

1. Low blood pressure: In the latest study, researchers found that not only do vegetarians have lower blood pressure on average, but that vegetarian diets could be used to lower blood pressure among people who need an intervention.

2. Lower risk of death: A 2013 study of more than 70,000 people found that vegetarians had a 12% lower risk of death compared with non-vegetarians. With none of the saturated fat and cholesterol that clogs arteries, vegetarians may be at a lower risk for chronic diseases overall.

3. Better moods: A 2012 study randomly split participants into a three diets: all-meat allowed, fish-only, and vegetarian no-meat. The researchers found that after two weeks, the people on the vegetarian diet reported more mood improvements than those on the other two diets.

4. Less chance of heart disease: Another 2013 study of 44,000 people reported that vegetarians were 32% less likely to develop ischemic heart disease.

5. Lower risk of cancer: Researchers at Loma Linda University in California studied different versions of the vegetarian diet and cancer risk among people at a low risk for cancer overall and discovered that a vegetarian diet may have protective benefits. Although the study is not the final say on the matter, vegans had the lowest risk for cancers, specifically cancers most common among women, like breast cancer.

6. Lower risk of diabetes: Studies have shown that vegetarians are at a lower risk for developing diabetes. While the diet won’t cure the disease, it can lower an individual’s risk by helping them maintain weight and improve blood sugar control.

7. Less likely to be overweight: Research shows that vegetarians tend to be leaner than their meat-eating counterparts, and that they also tend to have lower cholesterol and body mass index (BMI). Some data suggests that a vegetarian diet can help with weight loss and be better for maintaining a healthy weight over time.

From Web MD:

Vegetarian Diet May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Adopting a vegetarian diet may help people shave points off their blood pressure, a large study from Japan suggests.

The research, a review of 39 studies that included almost 22,000 people, found vegetarians had blood pressure that was significantly lower than those who ate meat.

On average, reductions seen across the studies were 5 to 7 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) for systolic blood pressure (the top number) and 2 to 5 mm/Hg for diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).

While those results are modest, clinical guidelines suggest they could reduce a person’s risk of heart attack by 9 percent and the risk of stroke by 14 percent if sustained over time, the study authors said.

From Craigslist:

Actor needed for Costume Event on 3/13 at SXSW!! ($27 Hr (Austin)

We are looking for an actor to play the role of “Celery” at SXSW. You will be in costume as a large Celery talking to consumers at the event. You must be outgoing and ready to have fun with lots of energy!

Dates:

Training Tuesday March 11 from 5pm-6pm
Event Thursday March 13 from 1pm-5pm

Two-to-three years crudité experience preferred.

The week’s high point

"CEO" Bryan Gathright caught in his office at the recently-concluded STPGA teaching summit in Bryan, Texas.

“CEO” Bryan Gathright caught in his office at the recently-concluded STPGA teaching summit in Bryan, Texas.

For about 10-to-12 minutes each week, for some 49 weeks a year, for nearly 17 years, San Antonio-based instructor Bryan Gathright and I have spoken publicly over the phone. Johnson to my Boswell, we’ve batted around many things, though I’m guessing he would agree we’ve barely scratched the surface of a topic of infinite depth such as golf in its many facets, borrowing a line from Red Smith, all of them turned on.

The time passes very quickly. Rarely, however, and often regrettably, are the conversations preserved. Here is a random sample transcribed, last Sunday as it happened. Several days earlier, I’d informally watched Bryan teach for the first time, part of a sectional PGA meeting. He happens to be left-handed. The late Harvey Penick, with whom Bryan spent formative time, recommended that he learn to execute shots right-handed for the benefit of his students, which he capably demonstrated.

We’ve never rehearsed. Nothing has been cleared in all the time we’ve spent chatting. We wing it. In fact, we went, I think, six or seven years, before even meeting. A small-town Texas boy, once a gutty collegiate kicker, Bryan, like those others at the top of his profession, is an excellent communicator. Conveying swing instruction over the radio can be tricky. Having worked with a very disparate group of exceptional golfers, including Notah Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner, who once routinely putted from both sides of the ball, Bryan has shared numerous, memorable behind-the-scenes glimpses of his interesting career. Not only concerning Begay’s fascinating story, or those relating to Jimmy Walker, who just may be the hottest golfer going at the moment, but also superlative insights concerning Notah’s former and very private Stanford teammate, the world’s No. 1 golfer.

Bryan has also never shied away from the tough question, for which I’m also grateful. Walker, from nearby Boerne, Texas, recently severed his ties. They still talk, and the insights and perspective are no less riveting.

The following transcript, long overdue, covers what must be considered in the scheme of our visits typically wide-ranging. Occasionally a thinly-veiled question will concern my own delusional game for I make it a point not to directly discuss my golf – BORING.

There’s also a busy and varied (potential) audience to consider. So, we purposefully flit from one thread to another. Bryan has deftly and cheerfully fielded these along with numerous other unrelated tangents, some technical, others philosophical, one after another. A pleasure to talk to, and a lynchpin of clarity in an insane game, checking in with him remains one of the high points of my week.

I will say this particular conversation may have veered more into the philosophical only because the experience of listening to such gifted teachers talk earlier in the week about their craft was still so fresh.

HEADY STUFF FOR A MUNY CHOP, PRO. THANK YOU AGAIN FOR AGAIN LETTING ME BE A FLY ON THE WALL AT THE RECENT SOUTHERN TEXAS PGA MEETING.

Bryan Gathright: Well, it was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing ya, and glad you got a chance to experience it. We had a great time, and what a great group of guys to spend the day with.

(BRYAN PARTICIPATED IN A PANEL WITH SEVERAL OF THE PGA SECTION’S BEST TEACHERS INCLUDING: CHUCK COOK, JIM HARDY, KEVIN KIRK, BILL MORETTI, JIM MURPHY, MARC STEINBAUER, AND PAUL MARCHAND.)

THIS WILL COME AS A TERRIFIC SHOCK TO BOTH OUR LISTENERS, BUT I AM IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS. BUT I WAS SURPRISED TO HEAR ONE OF YOUR TOP 100 COLLEAGUES SUGGEST THAT ALL OF YOU WERE, TOO. WATCHING MARC STEINBAUER COVER AND STEP ON BALLS IN A BUNKER AND THEN HIT THEM OUT WITH A SAND WEDGE’S LEADING EDGE, AND THEN WATCH YOU SWIFTLY TEACH A CHIP SHOT TECHNIQUE THAT HAS LED SUFFERING MEMBERS TO KISS YOU IN GRATITUDE, I’M COMING AROUND.

ARE YOU IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS?

BG: Well, I think we all are. And the thing you have to remember, for the majority of players that we work with, they’re playing golf because of a passion they have for the game, and a love of the game. All of us up there on the stage have worked with tour players and it’s a little different there. But with the rest of the people playing the game, it because they want to play better but at the same point in time, they’re coming to you for information and most importantly to learn how to better enjoy the game they love.

AND, YOU ALSO POINTED OUT THAT YOU’RE THE C.E.O. ON THE LESSON TEE. SOME STUDENTS, APPARENTLY, HAVE A LITTLE DIFFICULTY WITH THAT. HOW DO YOU, AS YOU SAID ON TUESDAY, ALMOST HAVE TO TRICK A DEMANDING STUDENT INTO LISTENING?

BG: Some of the more difficult pupils that you work with – they like to do a lot of the talking – and you’ve got to listen, and you’ve also got to know how to very respectfully take charge of that lesson. it’s something that’s just kind of a feel. You have to know your pupil, and most importantly, we all try and be as good communicators as we can but at the same point in time you’ve got to be confident to know that for that person, to get the help that they’re there for, you’ve got to be strong enough in your personality to take over that lesson at the appropriate time.

DO YOU ALSO CHARGE THE DIFFICULT STUDENT MORE?

BG: (Laughs) Well, I won’t say who… I don’t but one of my colleagues certainly mentioned that you might be able to price some of those out, if you needed to.

ATTITUDE IS SO IMPORTANT. YOURS AND YOUR STUDENT’S. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE FROM SOMEONE WHO COMES FOR A LESSON?

BG: On almost every occasion that you find, you want a willingness and openness for that student to kind of expose their flaws and weaknesses. So many times they’re embarrassed, especially if they’re a strong personality type. They’re embarrassed to not be good so they want to show what they do well as opposed to what they need to work on.

THIS WASN’T IN A GOLF CONTEXT, BUT THERE IS RESEARCH THAT SHOWS THAT BEGINNERS BENEFIT MORE FROM POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT AND THAT THE HIGHLY SKILLED BENEFIT MORE FROM CRITICISM. A BLANKET STATEMENT – BUT IS THERE FIELD EVIDENCE IN YOUR EXPERIENCE TO SUPPORT THAT?

BG: I think as a general rule there is but if that advanced player is a person that’s quite hard on themselves you’ve still got to blend it and give them some positives to go along with it because if they beat themselves up repetitively, and really don’t enjoy the better parts of their game, you’ve got to be careful and keep it on a nice positive mix. Certainly tour players want to work on what they don’t do well, but if you’ve got a personality that’s a little frail with their confidence, it’s still our job as a teacher to bring out the best in them and I think that’s a real tricky slope to slide down. You’ve got to be careful. You want to expose a way to improve on those weaknesses but you don’t want that weakness to turn into something that they beat themselves up on.

YOU’VE HAD ACCOMPLISHED PLAYERS WITH STRONG, DOMINANT PERSONALITIES WHO WEREN’T AFRAID TO MIX IT UP WITH YOU.

BG: Oh, absolutely. I mentioned during the session that Notah and I used to go at it pretty well, and, always with each other, in a fairly respectable way but there were always those times where two strong personalities and two strong-willed personalities – we still had a common goal. So you always have to remember that and just know that some of the stronger personalities tend to question things. And the one thing you have to understand as a teacher, that’s the one fiber in their make-up that makes them as good as they are anyway. So you’ve got to be careful and let them do it. I think, occasionally, they enjoy the scrape as well.

AND WITH ANOTHER PLAYER, SAY [LPGA TOUR PLAYER] DOROTHY DELASIN, IT MIGHT BE A DIFFERENT APPROACH.

BG: Oh, absolutely. Dorothy is a wonderful lady and someone with her background growing up and playing golf and everything you had to be much more careful and choose your words wisely and always try and instill confidence. And, more importantly, instill fun. She was certainly someone who was never confrontational.

ONE THING AT THE TEACHER’S SUMMIT THAT I THINK THOSE RELUCTANT TO TAKE A LESSON SHOULD KNOW. HERE WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL GROUP OF TEACHERS, WHO’VE WORKED WITH SOME OF THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE GAME, AND THEY ARE DETERMINED AND PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING THEIR STUDENTS – HOWEVER THEY PLAY – TO ENJOY THE GAME. IT MAY SOUND CLICHED, BUT THAT IS A VERY SINCERE COMMON BOND, IS THERE NOT?

BG: I think that’s very evident. When you get an opportunity to sit in and listen, like you did – we all have a passion to help people and help them improve. You could see that with every person that was in that room. No matter what their style, no matter what their method, it’s always, always visible when you sit down and talk with everyone and see how much concern and care for the pupil there is, and especially in that room.

FINALLY, PRO, I HEARD A BASEBALL COACH ADVOCATE HOLDING THE FINISH OF THE SWING. YOU LIKE THIS, AS MANY GOLF INSTRUCTORS DO, INCLUDING THE LATE HARVEY PENICK. WHY SHOULD IT MATTER WHAT WE LOOK LIKE AFTER THE BALL HAS GONE?

BG: Well, it’s a great test for us to learn just what happened. If you can hold your finish and it’s in a perfect balanced position, you’ll know that a lot of good had to occur to put you into that good position. You didn’t make a swing like an octopus falling out of a tree and automatically just end up in perfect balance in a perfect finish position facing the target. If you’re a little off balance, if the club’s not finished in the proper position – whatever the case might be – it’s a real good indicator of what might have gone wrong in the swing. And, certainly, it may not have helped the one that you just made but it can be invaluable information to figure out what you need to do on the next one.

THERE WAS A CHIP SHOT YOU TAUGHT, AND I DON’T WANT TO DENY YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE YOUR LIVING BY SHARING THAT PRICELESS INFORMATION, BUT YOU DID SHARE IT WITH SOME OF YOUR FELLOW TEACHERS. IT’S AN INTERESTING SHOT, AND IT IS TRUE WITH A TIGHT LIE TO IMAGINE – WERE PEOPLE ACTUALLY BOUNCING THE CLUB OVER THE BALL?

BG: I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag but, as I mentioned, I actually had a kiss on the range from one of our members. When he had played his previous round of golf he had actually missed it completely twice in a single round, where the club hit the ground behind the ball and hopped over it. And when we went out for the lesson, I think he literally bounced three of the first four over the top of the ball. So that uphill into the grain shot is a wonderful shot which, as you could tell, is complex but – I had two Houston-area club pros who were terribly struggling…

I SAW IT! I WAS WATCHING YOU.

BG: And it was amazing that by the end of that session [minutes!] how that ball was coming off. And most importantly  you could see a real shift in their confidence in the ability to hit that soft shot.

YOU ALL HAVE DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS. YOU ALL HAVE DIFFERENT APPROACHES. YOU’RE ALL EXCELLENT COMMUNICATORS. WAS THERE SOMETHING YOU HEARD FORMALLY, OR INFORMALLY, IN THE COURSE OF THE MEETING THAT YOU TOOK AWAY?

BG: Well, I think the one thing you always remember in those sessions, not as much as what was being said as how it was being said. I loved working with Marc Steinbauer. He and I have actually done a lot of things together over the years, and just the remembrance of that it’s okay to show them some fun things, and the next time we’re together I’ll show you how he was hitting that [bunker] shot, the one where it looks like it’s the edge. If you watch that club real closely going back there might be a little voodoo going on there.

THERE’S A LITTLE BIT OF THE ENTERTAINER…

There might be a lot of the entertainer in that shot, okay?

Stalking Points Memo: It’s what’s for dinner edition

From: NBC:

After the Gold: Olympic Medalists Struggle with Real Life

“It is extremely daunting,” he said. Even winning athletes grieve over career endings, [California sports psychologist Doug] Gardner said. “What ends up happening is that an athlete’s self-worth, and self-concept is connected to what they do. Take that away and there is a huge void. The task of the athlete is to have a successful transition out of the sport and that’s a difficult process.”

From: The Baltimore Sun

Exercise data reveal a couch potato nation

Americans are stuck in chairs and on the couch, spending eight hours a day with their metabolic engines barely idling, according to data from sensors that scientists put on nearly 2,600 people to see what they actually did all day.

The results were not encouraging: Obese women averaged about 11 seconds a day at vigorous exercise, while men and women of normal weight exercised vigorously (on the level of a jog or brisk uphill hike) for less than two minutes a day, according to the study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

If you included moderate exercise, such as yoga or golf, folks of normal weight logged about 2.5 to 4 hours weekly, according to the data. In part, that’s good news: federal recommendations include 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity coupled with muscle-strengthening exercise.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-exercise-sedentary-20140221,0,2080046.story#ixzz2uGNMNCGz

From NBC News:

Hot Pockets Included in Massive Meat Recall

Nestle USA is recalling 238,000 cases of its Hot Pockets pastries because they may contain meat included in a massive recall of nearly 9 million pounds of “diseased and unsound” beef products.

Three different sizes of Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets and Hot Pockets Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese products in the two-pack box are part of the voluntary recall issued Friday but announced on Tuesday.   hot pockets

Officials with the Nestle Prepared Foods Division said that the firm used meat produced by Rancho Feeding Corp. in 2013. Last week, the Petaluma, Calif., plant recalled 8.7 million pounds of beef parts, including whole carcasses and heads, feet, livers and so-called “mountain oysters,” among other items.

From ABC News:

3 bad reasons not to meditate

No. 2 “It’s baloney.”

I get it. I used to feel this way, too. But there’s a reason why businesspeople, lawyers and Marines have embraced meditation. There’s no magic or mysticism required — it’s just exercise. If you do the right amount of reps, certain things will happen reliably and predictably. One of those things, according to the research, is that your brain will change in positive ways. You will get better at not being carried away by your passing emotional squalls; you will learn — as the saying goes — to respond, not react. We now know that happiness, resilience and compassion are skills, susceptible to training. You don’t have to resign yourself to your current level of well-being, or wait for your life circumstances to change; you can take the reins yourself.

From Time:

Banish the occasional headache or upset tummy with remedies straight from your kitchen

Cure for: Stress or anxiety

Next time your buttons get pushed, reach for a banana, says Molly Kimball, RD, a certified specialist in sports dietetics with Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center in New Orleans. With only 105 calories and 14 g of sugar, a medium banana fills you up, provides a mild blood sugar boost, and has 30% of the day’s vitamin B6, which helps the brain produce mellowing serotonin, getting you through a crisis peacefully.

From Fox News:

 Modifying exercise routine important for aging adults

Dr. Wayne Westcott, co-author of the book “Strength Training Past 50,” said maintaining lean body mass becomes harder with ageing.

“The average man in good shape is about 85 percent lean weight, organs, blood, bones, muscles and skin, to 15 percent fat. The average healthy woman has a 75/25 ratio,” said Westcott, fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts.

“It’s more challenging with age but if you do strength training you can maintain your lean muscle to about age 70,” he said, adding that an older woman who doesn’t resistance train will lose up to 10 pounds of lean mass per decade.

Westcott places equal value on cardiovascular training.

“We recommend approximately 20 to 30 minutes of resistance exercises two to three times a week. Then try to have an equal amount of aerobic activity four to five days a week,” he explained.

Westcott added that older adults, who are hitting the gym in increasing numbers, might want to avoid explosive, high velocity activities, such as high jumps.

 

Which situation would you rather be in?

I happened to pick up a copy of “Top Dog,” subtitled The Science of Winning and Losing, apparently making the rounds with an avalanche of favorable pop science press and publicity. Golf doesn’t figure heavily in the storyline, although there are a few references, but I find myself coming back to it as the authors veer from various circumstances to make their points. For instance, they pose the question regarding the following flip side of the coin regarding a soccer penalty kick.

 Which situation would you rather be in?

  • Your team is down by one, and you have to make it to tie; if you miss, your team will lose.
  • Your team is tied, and you don’t have to make it, but if you do make it, you’ll win.

A similar situation occurs routinely in golf and will be recognizable to anyone with a penchant for the game’s most traditional and agonizing format: match play, such as we get it in pitying small doses in events like the Ryder, Solheim, Curtis and Walker Cups.

A putt to win the hole is obviously easier than one to halve it. Only the stakes have changed. Research shows that in the above scenario, the ball finds the net 30 percent fewer times, such is the psychological baggage. It’s the difference between what’s characterized as a threat (the team down) and the challenge (for the win). One only need recall the pressure on the shoulders of Herr Langer along the South Carolina coast to wonder if in golf the 30 percent figure might be conservative.

In any event the example serves to underscore one endearing and inherent aspect of golf’s complexity.

An earlier part of the book highlights the differences between competing against a clock and alongside an opponent. Humans, it seems, far prefer and do better pitted against someone. We perform better when the competitor is in our sights, as in a race. The heat of the moment, the sense of the occasion, the crowd can spur us on to remarkable feats. A distinction is made between what’s known as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. On our own, if I have this right, the motivation is intrinsic. The presence of a direct competitor ups the ante, spurs the competitive juices. It is extrinsic and it improves performance. Better times, for instance, even for a competitor who doesn’t necessarily win.

Here again golf offers another layer. During rounds of medal play the golfer must perform well intrinsically. His nearest competitor(s) may be hours from teeing off. Then, perhaps should be begin the final days round in sight of the lead, or even in the final pairing, he may have at least a general idea of his direct competitor. It may, however, be foolhardy to give the matter a second thought. Numerous others he’s never laid eyes on can pass him. Carole Semple Thompson, an exceptional match play champion, told me she hardly paid her opponents more than a glance – but match and medal play are not the same.

Golf, it would seem, offers a much more complex psychological landscape than other sports – a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic. Much harder, not to belittle the feat, than, say, overtaking a swimmer with an advantage in the anchor leg of a race.

There’s also this, a finding related to the study of SAT scores. The study identified something called the “N-Effect,” which holds that the more competitors involved, “the worse outcome for the individuals who are participating.”

 When there are only a few people in the race, we put our foot on the gas, working harder and harder to outpace our competitors. And the competition becomes very personal, a referendum on our own ability.

“In contrast, when we are against many, many competitors,” says [Professor Steven] Garcia, “we don’t care as much about how we stack up against one other competitor. Once the crowd is large enough that we don’t feel the element of personal competition, the result doesn’t feel like a personal statement of our worth, so we don’t try as hard.”

If this is indeed, true, it suggests an additional invisible element tugging at the professional golfer struggling against a large, competent, determined – and as noted – real if largely ephemeral field.

I'm guessing I know which option Herr Langer would choose.

I’m guessing I know which option Herr Langer would choose.